Scott Cummins joins Wildclaw again after directing Carmilla in 2011 (and the staged reading of the same play earlier this year). We sat down with the man behind the curtain to find out a bit more about his influences and inspirations, and to see if there are any new tricks up his sleeve for Motel 666!
How have motels played a role in your life?
Well,for me, growing up, motels were a fun place to be. they were usually a stop off on the way to a vacation spot and sometimes THEY HAD A POOL!!. As I grew older, it became a place to rest my head if I was driving long distances. Oddly though now I almost exclusively think of them as a setting for storytelling. I think of TV shows and movies that use them. A few years ago I directed the Los Angeles premiere of Bug by Tracy Letts (which some might consider a horror play) and that was the first time I was able use the motel setting to my advantage. Generally they are claustrophobic, seedy and have terrific design opportunities. Also, motel rooms come with a short hand that an audience can immediately identify.
Do you consider yourself a horror fan? What is your favorite genre of horror?
I actually don’t consider myself a horror fan per se, but I love good stories that have horror elements. I guess what i mean by that is horror has an intrinsic theatricality that I love. The potential danger, the special effects and other worldliness that is inherent in all the horror genres is what can draw me to it.
What was the first time you encountered horror in entertainment? Was it a book, a movie, a play or something else?
I think the first time I was introduced to horror was the movie The Exorcist which I saw at too young of an age. I had trouble sleeping for months because I thought I would wake up possessed by the devil. I came up with a ritual that I would do before I went to bed in hopes that it would prevent the demons from getting into my body.
What is the main challenge to directing a production in this genre? Have you done any horror before, or is this your first time? What is your favorite part about directing a horror piece?
I had directed Carmilla for WildClaw a few years back and you can’t get much more theatrical than Lesbian Vampires in a period piece. It was so much fun. I think the most difficult part of directing horror for me is that I am not an expert at the genre. That’s why it’s good that I am surrounded by the WildClaw horror geeks who can guide me through all the references.
Do you get to use violence design differently in a play like this than you would in a regular show?
The violence design is only different because sometimes you HAVE TO incorporate the gore. Meaning, when folks come to see a an horror theatre piece they have expectations, so you want to live up to them. Additionally, you have to ask: Do I want this violence to be almost absurd? Or is it gruesome? Or is it something else? and how does the gore fit in?
What is the one thing that scares you the most?
The one thing that scares me the most is the thought of helplessly watching a loved one being tortured. Sure I am afraid of extreme pain being done to me, but not being able to help someone else in pain disturbs me greatly. But on a lighter note, I don’t find enjoyment in a haunted house because I don’t like not knowing when things are going to jump out and startle me.
Motel 666 is OPEN and runs through June 28 – get tickets here! Performances will be held at the DCASE Storefront Theatre, 66 E. Randolph Street, with shows Thursday–Saturday at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.